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Chemical Case Study

Achieving operational excellence

In a polythene business

ABB support enabled a major

petrochemical company
to embark on a key strategic
project to develop and
implement a global operations
excellence programme.

The programme aimed to reduce costs, increase plant This case study outlines the success on the polythene
availability and reduce waste through introducing world plant that piloted the roll-out of the operations excellence
class manufacturing practices in a sustainable way. ABB programme. Management activity in the business focussed
was selected to complete an initial high level benchmark mainly on the short-term and was largely reactive. The client
assessment at 10 of their 150 plants. The assessment recognised that management attitudes and values must
identified the gaps between present and world class undergo a dramatic shift in order to develop a capacity for
performance, quantified the financial opportunity for continuous improvement. Identifying real business issues
improvement and established momentum for action. rather than relying on perceptions was also the key to
success across all work streams.
Building on the learning from the benchmark, ABB worked
with the organisation to develop their global operations Before the start of the programme:

excellence programme. ABB were then selected as the “Here we go again with another initiative”
programme implementation partner, providing ABB’s leading
operational excellence methodology and proven delivery
“Yet another consultant, but nothing will
experience. change”
“One more intervention with nice words”
ABB’s approach to operational improvement is based on
“We do not have time for this now, we
our i2i model. The approach delivers improvement through 3
phases of work; have real work to do!”

− − Investigate (performance, practices and opportunities) 2 months later:

− − Implement (diagnose problems and identify solutions)
− − Integrate (embed solutions into normal business)
“The process convinced me that it will
change the way we do things”
Improvement is driven via 3 ‘streams’ of activity, all of which “This is exciting stuff!”
must be aligned and normally progress in parallel;
“I have a changed mindset”
− − Leadership stream (business direction and focus) “Exceptionally positive, I’m already
− − Operational stream (manufacturing improvement teams) seeing changes in behaviour”
− − Organisational stream (people and culture)
“It is difficult to say why, but it just works”
“I changed, so everyone can change”
Coming from the leadership stream:
−− Realisation that fundamental changes to the business
were essential
− − Developed a radically improved five year vision of the
− − Identified immediate changes to match the business with
the market
−− Managers moved to a business rather than a functional

Coming from the operational stream (MIT): ABB’s approach differs from many manufacturing
−− Increased grade efficiency from 90% to 95% consultancy approaches by adopting a process consultation
−− 600k USD saving by reducing below grade and scrap style. Instead of delivering a pre-determined solution (e.g.
product lean manufacturing), we facilitate client teams to investigate
− − Morale boosted through improved performance problems and discover the underlying issues for themselves.

©ABB Limited 2015

Clients then decide on the most appropriate, high impact
Coming from the organisational stream: solutions for their situation.
− − 7 days of continuous running achieved within 4 weeks
− − Record plant outputs every month since the programme Our experience shows that this accelerates both employee
began engagement and passion, translating into powerful results.
− − 25M USD of additional polythene production ABB assists the client with a range of appropriate tools
− − Sustainable improvement methodology is operating in the associated with leading edge methodologies, including lean

Operations improvement
plant and six-sigma, and provides training that facilitates practical
transfer to the workplace.
ABB’s operational improvement team and the client worked When the client identifies and owns both the issues
in partnership through the i2i model. and solutions, the improvements are sustainable. The
behavioural shift for the client is from ‘activity’ to ‘meaning’
Investigation phase: – this has a powerful impact on sustainability. When using
ABB first performed a baseline study to assess performance i2i ABB actively works to transfer key skills to the client
(business metrics) and practices (‘the way we do things employees, leaving the structure and ability to deliver future
round here’). The assessment process includes senior improvement.
management through to shop floor employees and ABB
facilitates the baseline in an inclusive way so people feel
involved in the assessment (rather than being audited). For further information please contact:
A strategy workshop followed the assessment where the
study outputs were analysed to select the priority areas for ABB Consulting
implementation projects. Daresbury Park
Implementation and integration phase: Warrington
The implementation projects identified in the strategy Cheshire
workshop were worked through the 3 streams of the i2i WA4 4BT
model. In this case the: United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0)1925 741111
− − Leadership stream focused on overall ‘working capital’ Fax: +44 (0)1925 741212
− − Operational stream (MIT) focused on ‘grade efficiency’ in E-Mail:
one polythene plant
− − Organisational stream focused on the reliability of a
second polythene plant
ABB Consulting provides technical and engineering services
With each stream, ABB assisted the client in integrating an to improve performance in the areas of compliance,
existing leadership behavioural programme. This delivered operations and engineering to customers in the chemical,
the performance improvements and modelled the desired petrochemical, oil & gas, power, pharmaceuticals, metals
leadership behaviours. The ABB approach demonstrated and consumer industries worldwide.
the effectiveness of ‘working towards a new way of thinking,
rather than thinking towards a new way of working’.